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A Century of Ecosystem Science: Planning Long-Term Research in the Gulf of Alaska
ment is to serve as a general guiding principle and statement of underlying philosophy and approach, and this mission statement accomplishes this purpose. However, putting this statement into practice is likely to prove difficult.
According to an early EVOSTC document (EVOSTC, 2000b), GEM was conceived to have three main components:
long-term ecosystem monitoring (decades in duration);
short-term focused research (one to several years in length); and
ongoing community involvement, including use of traditional knowledge and local stewardship.
The committee still views this early vision of the program as a sound foundation on which to build. In a later document (EVOSTC, 2000a) the purpose of the GEM program is further delineated to contain five program goals: detect, understand, predict, inform, and solve. The committee understands the general intent of these goals and the necessity of making the program respond to both the needs of science and the needs of its political constituency. But as discussed in earlier reports, the committee remains concerned that these five goals are extremely diverse and farreaching. While the GEM mission is a good general statement of intent, the committee’s concern is that addressing all five goals will present the risk that the research and monitoring program will be spread too thin to be effective.
In its review of the evolving GEM long-term research program the committee noted some positive strides. We believe that the GEM planners tried to include the interests of diverse stakeholders (Trustee Council, scientists, various advisory groups). We are pleased to see that the planning process has caused an evolution in the draft and the thinking behind it. We commend GEM planners for not taking the easy route of simply picking stations and starting data collection, and that they took the time to think about the conceptual foundation and develop the hypotheses that are necessary to define data needs. We find the conceptual foundation is much improved; however, placing the conceptual foundation deep in Volume II of the plan is not appropriate. That late placement implies that it is an afterthought and not the foundation upon which the program is built. It is, however, a good point of departure for GEM, and we assume it will evolve as the program moves toward implementation. We believe that GEM planners have made progress on the development of hypotheses, although there is still room for more work in this area.
GEM staff members have made a good effort to reach out to the science community. They have a good start on their discussion of and ap-